At second PI...
One Shafeek Bacchus murder accused freed
Guyana Chronicle
July 23, 2004

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ONE of the two remaining accused in the Shafeek Bacchus murder case was freed yesterday.

Part owner of A & D Funeral Parlour, Ashton King was discharged by Magistrate Adrian Thompson who upheld no-case submissions by his Defence Counsel, Mr Vic Puran.

Co-accused ex-policeman Shawn Hinds was further remanded until today, when State Counsel Simone Bullen, from the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), will reply to his lawyer, Mr Compton Richardson.

Puran had submitted, at the resumption of the continuing preliminary inquiry (PI), that there was insufficient evidence to prove that King killed or was connected to the killing of Bacchus in a drive-by shooting outside his Princes Street, Lodge, Georgetown home last January 5.

Magistrate Thompson, delivering his decision, said none of the 10 witnesses who testified had implicated King as being connected to the crime in any way.

Puran said Detective Inspector Lloyd Fraser reported that King repeatedly denied the allegation when it was put to him.

After King left the courtroom with jubilant relatives and friends, Puran announced that he might file and action against the State for wrongfully implicating the former.

"...but we will, most likely, wait and see what is the outcome of his wife's case," Puran said, referring to Debra Douglas, who is jointly charged with two men for murdering George Bacchus, brother of Shafeek Bacchus, on June 24.

King himself jumped and hugged family members and well-wishers who surrounded him upon hearing the outcome.

As usual, for the continuation of the PI, many people gathered outside the Court precinct but were prevented from entering the compound amidst strict security that has been in place since two bomb scares previously interrupted the proceedings.

During yesterday's continuation, Constable Gerald Aaron, from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at Brickdam Police Station and another witness, Aubrey Price, gave depositions.

Richardson cross-examined Price but both lawyers declined cross-examination of Aaron, who tendered the post mortem report before the Prosecution closed.

Richardson, speaking for two and a half hours on behalf of Hinds, submitted that it is the function of the Court, at such an inquiry, to ensure the accused is not sent for trial in the High Court unless a prima facie case has been made out against him.

Richardson discredited the evidence given by Price about an identification parade, saying it was of very poor quality.

The lawyer said Price claimed he saw Hinds for two seconds when a car approached the victim and again, for three seconds, when he pulled his head into the vehicle along with a gun, just after the gunshots were fired.

Richardson said Price had only a fleeting glance of the person who he recalled sat in the rear seat of the automobile.

About Price knowing Hinds before the shooting, Richardson said that evidence was weak and of extremely poor quality, because what the witness told the Court is that he had seen Hinds on numerous times but did not disclose from what distance, position and the period of time Hinds was in his view on those occasions.

This second PI followed the first from which Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen recused herself, after the claim by now dead self-confessed informant of the so-called death squad, George Bacchus, brother of Shafeek Bacchus, that she was on the hit list of the alleged phantom gang.

Mark Thomas alias 'Kerzorkee', who also faced the joint charge with King and Hinds, died under mysterious circumstances, at Georgetown Public Hospital, before the first PI started.